How do you call shots?

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by PTRAVEL, Jul 3, 2003.

  1. PTRAVEL

    PTRAVEL Guest

    This is probably a fairly silly question, but what the heck . . .

    Tomorrow, I'm producing and directing a 4-camera live-switched shoot (one
    camera fixed and unmanned). None of the cameras have tally lights, but I
    have headsets for myself and each camera position.

    The most cameras I've ever switched before was 3 (2-manned, 1-fixed).
    Because of the lack of tally lights, I have to verbally advise each camera
    person when their camera is live.

    How do you do this? I've been reverting to the way I used to do it when I
    called lighting cues for live theater, i.e. "Go, Bill," "Go, Jane," etc.
    This doesn't work well, though, when I'm doing a cross-fade, especially a
    slow one, or I'm pulling an image from multiple cameras, e.g. PIP or
    superimposition.

    Is there a well-accepted, efficient convention for doing this?

    Thanks.
     
    PTRAVEL, Jul 3, 2003
    #1
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  2. PTRAVEL

    Larry Jandro Guest

    When I've found myself in such a situation, I'd pretty much do it
    as you've described, with some differences.

    Always keep the operators advised as to who is "hot," and when
    making transitions, just do the same. For example, "ONE - you're
    still hot - TWO, ready for a slow dissolve to you. ONE and TWO,
    you're both hot - coming through to TWO. TWO - you're hot, ONE
    you're clear."

    Always "ready" them. Don't take a camera which isn't expecting to
    go hot at the moment. Avoid long "ready" conditions. A take should
    occur a beat or so after the "ready." I use "standby" to get an
    operator ready for something which I know is coming a little later.

    I prefer to use numbers to void confusion. Names, when spoken
    rapidly in a loud environment can be mistaken.

    Your "cadence" is important. Have a meeting with the operators
    before the shoot begins and tell them exactly how you are going to
    call the show. Tell them to keep their PL talk switches OFF,
    unless they need to answer you. When you need to work this way,
    avoid using the PL for idle chatter.

    Always have a quick compliment ready for an operator who gives you
    an especially good or imaginative shot. That will encourage the
    others to do likewise.

    Good luck..!

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    Larry Jandro, Jul 3, 2003
    #2
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  3. PTRAVEL

    Mike Kujbida Guest

    You don't mention what kind of shoot this will be (4th of July concert,
    fireworks??) so I'll try to stay generic here as much as possible.

    To add to Alan's excellent advice, I've worked camera on a number of
    different kinds of shoots where we had no tally lights for the cameras.
    It's even more important for the director to always warn his shooters when
    he wants to switch to their camera(s). Phrases like 'ready one', 'watch
    one', 'coming to you one', ready to dissolve to two, 'ready to dissolve to
    the split between two and three' and, finally, 'take one', 'take two',
    'dissolve two' and 'dissolve to split of two and three' are examples of cues
    that I've experienced in the past.

    it's also incumbent on the shooters to assume, as Alan said, that they're
    always "ON" and to never change their shot unless you, as the director,
    specifically ask them to.

    As far as splits, fades, etc. are concerned, try, if at all possible, to
    rehearse them ahead of time. This gives the shooters a chance to get the
    feel for where their camera should be positioned for a particular shot.

    One more suggestion, if you can do it, is to mark the viewfinders with a
    grease pencil (or some other easily removable marker). In the case of a
    PIP, this helps the shooter know exactly where their shot needs to be
    positioned.

    Good luck with your shoot and let us know how well it turns out (as we all
    know it will).

    Mike Kujbida
     
    Mike Kujbida, Jul 3, 2003
    #3
  4. PTRAVEL

    Mike Kujbida Guest

    You don't mention what kind of shoot this will be (4th of July concert,
    fireworks??) so I'll try to stay generic here as much as possible.

    To add to Alan's excellent advice, I've worked camera on a number of
    different kinds of shoots where we had no tally lights for the cameras.
    It's even more important for the director to always warn his shooters when
    he wants to switch to their camera(s). Phrases like 'ready one', 'watch
    one', 'coming to you one', ready to dissolve to two, 'ready to dissolve to
    the split between two and three' and, finally, 'take one', 'take two',
    'dissolve two' and 'dissolve to split of two and three' are examples of cues
    that I've experienced in the past.

    It's also incumbent on the shooters to assume, as Alan said, that they're
    always "ON" and to never change their shot unless you, as the director,
    specifically ask them to.

    As far as splits, fades, etc. are concerned, try, if at all possible, to
    rehearse them ahead of time. This gives the shooters a chance to get the
    feel for where their camera should be positioned for a particular shot.

    One more suggestion, if you can do it, is to mark the viewfinders with a
    grease pencil (or some other easily removable marker). In the case of a
    PIP, this helps the shooter know exactly where their shot needs to be
    positioned.

    Good luck with your shoot and let us know how well it turns out (as we all
    know it will).

    Mike Kujbida
     
    Mike Kujbida, Jul 3, 2003
    #4
  5. PTRAVEL

    Larry Jandro Guest

    I forgot another basic concept. Tallys or not, always try to keep
    the operators advised as to what is coming up.

    For instance, "THREE - in about two minutes, Joe Blow will be
    entering from stage right. I'll use you on a wide shot to walk him
    on."

    That kind of thing. YOU are the director. Direct.

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    Larry Jandro, Jul 3, 2003
    #5
  6. PTRAVEL

    Mike Kujbida Guest

    Oops!! Sticky fingers - again :-(
    Sorry.

    Mike
     
    Mike Kujbida, Jul 3, 2003
    #6
  7. PTRAVEL

    Chris Fewer Guest

    I've done plenty of shoots without tally lights, you get used to it, but
    with tally lights is definitly preferable.

    Some direct by name, some direct by number, number is usually easier.

    Give them a heads up before you take them, "Stand by one", then tell them
    they're up "One is up", and if you're keeping them up for a long period, as
    somone else said, say "one is still up" occasionally.

    Good luck with it.
     
    Chris Fewer, Jul 3, 2003
    #7
  8. PTRAVEL

    Alan Lloyd Guest

    Also good advice, as was Mike K's.

    I suspect that if there are no tallies, there is also no return video,
    so the pix-in-pix thing, if it happens, is going to be rather
    demanding.
     
    Alan Lloyd, Jul 3, 2003
    #8
  9. PTRAVEL

    PTRAVEL Guest

    Thanks to you and Alan for the suggestions.

    This is basically how I've been doing it, with a couple of exceptions. This
    biggest exception is chatter on the intercom. Cameraperson is a volunteer
    position at this shoot (my friends' annual 4th of July show), and the
    incentive for the camera operators is we get to talk about (well, actually,
    "make fun of") the talent behind their backs. We also need open lines to
    call in drink orders to our production assistant/cocktail waitress (another
    incentive to be a camera operator -- priority on the drinks). Neither of
    these traditions have resulted in too-sloppy a show, we're not pros nor
    anything remotely close, and it's all among friends, anyway. ;)
     
    PTRAVEL, Jul 3, 2003
    #9
  10. PTRAVEL

    PTRAVEL Guest

    And I should add . . thanks to everyone else. I didn't expect to get this
    much feedback.

    This is an outdoor 4th of July variety show -- stage lighting, fixed camera
    positions, except for one camera which will be tripod-based, but I also want
    it to "roam," i.e. use the quick-release to get off the tripod and get shots
    from the stage behind the performers, audience reactions, etc. The headsets
    are noise-cancelling. I've used them before for this show (this will be the
    5th time I've done this show live-switched, though the first three years
    were only 2-camera), and they work quite well. The stage is a slightly
    strange setup, so I've got tripod-mounted cameras house left and center, and
    the "roaming" camera on a tripod house right (which is really
    house-center-right). I've got an unmanned camera at the back of the house
    (well, it's actually a very large yard), mounted on a light bar which gives
    me a nice, wide shot of the audience and the stage -- it's great to cut to
    when I don't know what's happening next, which is often. The show is
    essentially open-mike, and completely unrehearsed. I've been doing
    production on it for nearly 20 years now, first doing sound only, then
    taking over video when the videographer in our group went bankrupt and lost
    his equipment. I actually still run sound while directing the video, but
    it's not as bad as it sound. There are 5 stage mikes (2 for the band, 1
    wireless for performers who like to go into the audience), a sound feed from
    the keyboard player, and a CD and tape player for those who use prerecorded
    accompaniments. All sound levels are pre-set well before the show, and it's
    only a question of switching in the comp/limiter and FX chain (for reverb)
    depending on which mike(s) are chosen by the performers. However, to
    complicate things, this year (the 30th and final production), I'm going to
    perform, so midway through the show I've got to through my headset to the
    AD. Should be a night to remember. ;)

    BTW, since this is the last show, I'm going to be putting most of the video
    and audio equipment up on eBay this weekend. None of it is pro-level gear,
    but if anyone wants an AG-456 or AG-455, or a consumer video mixer, it'll be
    there.;)
     
    PTRAVEL, Jul 3, 2003
    #10
  11. PTRAVEL

    Cory Guest

    BTW, since this is the last show, I'm going to be putting most of the
    video
    Can you post the links here, once the stuff is up on ebay?
     
    Cory, Jul 3, 2003
    #11
  12. PTRAVEL

    Larry Jandro Guest

    Well, good luck with it. Sounds like fun. Don't forget to set down
    your drink when you need two hands on the switcher.

    I hate it when that happens..!

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    Larry Jandro, Jul 3, 2003
    #12
  13. PTRAVEL

    Bill Davis Guest

    5) Tell them immediately when a particular move or transition looks =
    This thread gets my vote for the most enjoyable of the month.

    Hey Paul, if you get a chance, you should find a way to record your com
    channel.

    I always thought that someone should hold a contest for the wackiest
    Clear-com chatter.

    You know, encourage camera ops around the country to grab an XLR y-cable
    and run a patch to a mini-disc, or similar and grab the show direction. I
    bet the result would be a hoot.

    I'll never forget working the hand-held on-stage camera at a trade show at
    the Pasadena convention center years ago. The tech director was well, lets
    say he was technically competent but lacked certain social skills. One
    part of the gig involved a blind guy who played a grand piano on stage. I
    stumbled onto what I thought was a really pretty shot, him playing framed
    small and lower right with a second reflection of him in the underside of
    the highly polished lid. The shot required me to kinda crouch down and
    wasn't particularly comfortable. ('D-30 studio back with half a mile of
    multicore hanging off) Anyway, after holding it for 20 seconds or so to
    see if the director wanted to use it, he finally notices the shot and
    yells. HOLD THAT! (of course, he didn't specify WHO or WHAT to hold - but
    we all froze. Then it becoms obvious that he meant me cuz I can see on the
    return that he's mixed my shot with another and the composite looks really
    nice. But I'm DYING in this position.

    He holds it for about a freekin' minute while my thighs go up in flames.
    Then fades to another shot. And NEVER says a word to me. Then to my
    surprise, I hear the com click. It's the gal on Camera 2 who says... "That
    was a REALLY nice shot, three."

    I think that was the only positive thing I heard in five days of work.

    So I'll heartily second Steve's comment above.
     
    Bill Davis, Jul 3, 2003
    #13
  14. PTRAVEL

    Seattle Eric Guest

    That is so poignant. Oy!

    Have fun!
     
    Seattle Eric, Jul 3, 2003
    #14
  15. PTRAVEL

    PTRAVEL Guest

    That's a really good idea. Though this is the last show, for next year I'm
    going to put together a tribute/retrospective video. I think it would be
    fun to include some of the "never-intended-for-publication" comments. I'll
    bring my minidisc recorder tomorrow.

    I'm pretty good about keeping the crew happy, since they're all non-pro
    volunteers who could simply be enjoying the show if it weren't for these
    cameras that I've chained them to. Compliments, booze, drugs, sex . . .
    whatever it takes. ;)
     
    PTRAVEL, Jul 3, 2003
    #15
  16. PTRAVEL

    Bill Renfro Guest

    Above all else Have Fun!!
    We just did a live switch last night for a Montgomery Gentry concert. Lots
    of fun. We used audio cues for the camera ops. You probably would find our
    chatter rather boreing, since this was a major concert, it was mostly all
    business. Well ok there may have been a few slips in the conversation.
    Keep the cues short and keep everyone informed of what is going on, and
    praise good shots. It's about that simple.
    We were running a live switch feeding two projection systems for an audiance
    of about 15,000 people.
    It was a long day but still fun.

    Bill Renfro
    Hollow Rock Productions
    Christian Technology
     
    Bill Renfro, Jul 4, 2003
    #16
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